The day Walter White made an appearance in my VO booth

I am extremely lucky to have my recording studio in the countryside which brings with it many benefits, not least of which – it’s quiet.

Mainly.

Apart from the odd sheep baaa’ing, or a car passing, I can usually get my recordings done with the minimum of fuss.

However, there’s a fly in the ointment, today. Well, to be specific, in my booth.

Despite their miniature size flies are not only annoying and quite unpleasant, but in an environment where the noise floor is low (about -66 db) their ‘high pitched buzzing’ really causes a problem.

Now, I won’t kill anything – I have strong views on that, unless the thing is going to injure me or my kids, or sometimes if it’s going to steal my food.

But, I work really hard to ensure my recordings are as clean as possible – perhaps a bit too obsessively, but I believe it’s in the clients’ interest.

For any of you not familiar with Breaking Bad, there’s an episode where a fly gets into Walter’s lab – and he ends up spending all day trying to eliminate the ‘contamination’. The irony being, he spends so long on attempting to swat the fly, that he ends up not doing any work.

Here’s a sample of his tribulation…

It was one of my favourite episodes.

Sometimes, I’m a little more ‘Samuel Jackson’  about it…

Substitute the words ‘flies’ and ‘booth’ for ‘snakes’ and ‘plane’ in this clip and you get the picture…

Of course, that was the TV edit, where they substituted a few choice words themselves in post – well we can’t have actual cursing on my website now can we?

Not wanting to kill it, and thinking swearing at it probably wasn’t gonna help, I decided to consider other options.

I did some research and it appears that a housefuly will beat its wings 200 times a second – which supposedly means it generates a buzz at 200 Hz:

http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/NancyLee.shtml

So, surely all I have to do is EQ down the 200Hz frequency and Bob’s your uncle?

HA!

Have a look at the actual frequency range it generates as it buzzes past the mic, see and hear for yourself…

WOW!

I achieved this by trapping the little feller in a glass, turning the gain right up, and then releasing it in the direction of the mic – the first sound is me removing the card from the glass, the second is his launch and subsequent flight. Obviously the sound is amplified, so you can see the waveform – but it’s the RANGE which surprised me.

Clearly, eliminating sound across almost the entire spectrum was gonna have a slight effect on the actual recording.

Now the other things which share our house are spiders, and I don’t mind spiders. We share a common goal, given that their primary focus is to remove the very problem I am faced with.

However, we house inefficient arachnids. We’ve got 5 in the bedroom alone – 5 poor quality, ineffective and generally lazy spiders.

So this morning, I decided to rally the eight leggedy team and have a pep talk:

“Good morning, so how was your evening yesterday?”

<silence>

“Ok – it’s gonna be like then is it? Well today Team-S we’re gonna set some targets, I am going to performance manage you – and if you don’t deliver against your quota then it’s CURTAINS for you – and NO that does not refer to a new place for you to hide!”

Sadly, they didn’t respond very positively:

  • Boris and Martin shambled off to a corner, muttering
  • Simba stared at me blankly
  • Dennis had dark glasses on, so I couldn’t even tell if he was awake to be honest
  • And I am sure I spotted Patrick flicking the ‘V’s

There was nothing for it, I just had to catch the fly in the glass again, and let him out of the room. It only took about an hour, and in the meantime there was a gang of ’em poised on the plum tree outside of the window – waiting for their opportunity to take his place.

The second part of this blog was going to be on the subject of time management and setting priorities, but the day is gone now so that will have to wait.

Have a great day

Steve

NB: No flies were harmed in the making of this blog. Some spiders were slightly humiliated – but that’s down to their own shoddy workmanship.

 

 

 

With a little help from my friends…

A first!

What follows is a collaborative blog produced by a bunch us VO artists explaining how we’re using technology to drive the human connection in what can be an isolated business…

With a Little Help from Our Friends

How Monthly Meetings on Google Hangouts are enriching the VO journeys of 6 voice-over artists

By Carrie Afrin, Debby Barnes, Mike Broderick, Mel Elliott, Steve O’Neill, and Guy Slocombe

Beginning in April this year, a group of four of us (Debby, Mel, Mike, and Steve) started meeting once a month on Google Hangouts to talk about all things voice-over, share our experiences, and offer each other support, encouragement, and advice.

The experience has been tremendous – one we’d recommend without hesitation to voice-over artists and voice actors everywhere.

We thought we’d share with you how we started our group, how it works, why it works, and what it means to each of us.

How it began

The four of us had a shared connection:  We’d all taken part separately in Gary Terzza’s VO Masterclass, and subsequently met each other through Google+ and Twitter, although to this day we’ve never met in person.

We got along well and found ourselves sharing tips and advice on social media. Mel had experimented with Google Hangouts with a couple of us to test it for use with a client, and then Mike suggested meeting regularly in a Google hangout, as he’d had a good experience taking part in meetings of the VAU Mic Check.

After a flurry of emails and diary checking we settled on a set date and time to meet once a month, with Steve taking on the duties of sending out the meeting invites on Google+.  (Thank you Steve!)

How it Works

We meet on the last Friday of each month at 11a.m., and the meetings run from 60-90 minutes. Because we’re all based in the UK and in the same time zone, it made it easier for us to find a time when we could all meet.

(If you’re inspired to use Hangouts for your meetings, one thing to consider when using Google+ to send invitations is that it seems to apply different time zones to different accounts, even if you select the same time zone (such as GMT) for the meeting. This is something we learned when our first Google+ invite requested we meet at 4am!)

There is no set agenda or formal structure, although we generally start each chat with an overview of how we’ve each done over the month.

From there the discussions can flow across a wide variety of topics from pre-screening Debby’s brand new commercial demo (which is superb), to hearing about booked jobs or interesting auditions over the past month, to learning how Steve’s sharp, new marketing videos are being received by his local business community, to the tricky issues of dealing with awkward foreign translations, or setting voice-over rates.

All discussions take place in a safe, supportive environment, and everyone has time to speak and ask questions.

It’s worked so well that we’ve even agreed to cross-refer each other to potential clients when our individual voices and skill sets don’t suit a given project.

Why it Works

To a person we’re all positive, supportive, and helpful people who ensure that the group remains an open, non-competitive forum. This is critical to the group’s success.

We take a professional approach to voice-over and are dedicated to mastering the craft (none of us would touch Fivver with the proverbial barge pole).  We’re generally new to the industry (with our individual experience ranging from 6 months to three years), and most of us have come into voice-over after a career change – with the majority having worked in corporate or business – support positions.

Our group also has gender balance (with three females and three males), decent geographic coverage across the UK (the Southeast, Midlands, and North of England, as well as Scotland), a bit of international flair (with 4 Britons and 2 UK-based Americans), and varied voice styles and unique selling points.

What started as the VO Fantastic Four (a tongue-in cheek effort to “Marvel-ise” our little group) has recently grown to the VO Super Six, with the addition of Guy Slocombe who joined us for the first time in August, and Carrie Afrin who will join us in September.

We’ve decided to cap the group at 6, as we feel this would give us the maximum amount of wide-ranging input and advice, while allowing each of us enough time to speak and ask questions.

What it means to us

Carrie Afrin (http://www.carriesvoice.co.uk/) – Female Scottish Voice-over Artist (Scottish Highlands, Scotland)

“I am very new to the group, but I am loving it already!  Everyone has been so supportive of each other, and it is great to have the guys on hand for some feedback on a voice file or a marketing idea.

I like the idea of sharing our marketing efforts and ideas. Sometimes when you try something different in your campaign it can take up quite a bit of time and effort. I’m working on quite a big marketing project at the moment, and I’ve discussed it with the team. This way I can test it out, and if it is successful then maybe one of the others could do it for their campaign. On the other side, if it turns out to be unsuccessful then it is only my time that is wasted rather than a few of us, and the rest of the group know not to bother with that particular activity.

As a group we can test out a lot more marketing strategies than we could individually. The way I see it, increased marketing can only make our individual businesses stronger.”

Debby Barnes (http://www.debbybarnes.com/) – Female American Voice-over Artist (Oxfordshire, England)

What I’ve experienced in this particular posse can never be underestimated.  Sharing lives, stories, experiences, values, and views has been profitable, uplifting and comforting as well.

The individuals involved are marked with the same kind of open, honest, affable and gracious qualities that the Voice-over Community as a whole is marked with.

And because I haven’t enjoyed the luxury of getting to one of the coveted VO conferences yet (…though I’m panting for the day I can!), this Google+ circle has been such a boon.

Voice-over professionals all over the globe share an isolated, home-studio/ “cave-dwelling” lifestyle, so this is a welcome hangout. After all, it gets lonely inside our “caves”.

Mike Broderick (http://www.mikebroderickvoiceover.com/) – Male American Voice-over Artist (Essex, England)                                                   

“For starters, all the members of our group seem to be very good and nice people, and I’m so glad to be getting to know them.

They are incredibly generous, helpful, and supportive. Each has gone out of their way to help me, and I’m very appreciative.

Mel has pointed me in the direction of some sizeable auditions (which ultimately connected me to the Voice Realm and auditions through Marc Cashman) and also recommended me and Steve to a video producer.  Steve has shared his tips for creating great voice-over marketing videos.  Debby has informed me of an excellent demo producer (Anthony Reese) to consider when I need a new demo, and Guy has offered to master music into some of my audio files.

In addition, my compatriot Debby and I have discussed the special challenges and opportunities associated with being American voice-over artists based in the UK.

Every month I’m inspired to hear how the other members of our group are booking jobs and chasing their VO dreams with gusto, and I’m very happy to be a part of their journeys.”

Mel Elliott (http://www.melsbritishvoice.co.uk/) – Female English Voice-over Artist (Leicester, England)

“A request from a client to direct a session using Google Hangouts resulted in my first ‘face to face’ meeting with Steve & Mike.

Having only hooked up on Google+ via the Mighty Mr Gary Terzza, it was a bit of a punt to be honest to ask them to test it out with me before I met with my client for real.

I was astonished how readily they both came to my rescue – fully kitted out Superman style with their pants outside their trousers!  Well, they may well have been for all I could see!  Up until then, other than Gary’s support, I’d pretty much followed the solitary VO journey using the endless streams of information online … and I can tell you I’ve never looked back.

With the infectious enthusiasm of Debby to add to the mix, our first Google Hangout was a breath of fresh air for me – an excited sharing of experiences, pearls of wisdom, and a realisation that we have something special here!

With Guy and Carrie on board now, too, we’re a force to be reckoned with!  The breadth of background, knowledge, styles and skills coupled with a willingness to share it with each other is, without a doubt, a recipe for continued success and growing friendships for us all!  And I for one am delighted to be part of it!”

Steve O’Neill (http://www.steveoneillvoice.com/) – Male English Voice-over Artist (Hampshire, England)

“When I first set out in voiceover, I found the VO community to be the most supportive, accessible, considered, and balanced group of people I have EVER worked with. Whilst we all want success, it does not come at the expense of other VO artists – a truly refreshing balance.

Having the benefit of being able to video conference with like-minded VO people, the monthly hangout is invaluable. It lets me catch up, have a laugh, learn and find out how other people solve the challenges I’ve been faced with, without fear of criticism or ridicule. I find myself being totally honest (a little too much sometimes!)

It also enables me to test my ideas with a group of people who can offer a balanced, considered and – most importantly – real world viewpoint.

At first we had considered various lengths of time, but monthly seems to work, and they don’t half come around quickly!

I love being able to share, critique, giggle and generally keep in touch with reality each month.

  • Debby is our voice of experience, and one of the kindest people I know.
  • Mike offers a truly rounded viewpoint, and loves the ‘tech’ side of what we do.
  • Mel perhaps has the most similar background to me, and defines the word ‘professional’ – she keeps me in order too!
  • Guy brings a wider spectrum of experience, and has some fab tips!
  • Carrie is a tornado of ideas, enthusiasm and energy – can’t wait for our next session and for her to join us.

I would thoroughly recommend meeting up with your own group of peers/colleagues/friends using Google Hangouts, particularly if you’re looking for something informal and straightforward.

I’m looking forward to the next session, gang!”

Guy Slocombe (http://www.guyslocombevoiceover.com/) – Male English Voice-over Artist (North Yorkshire, England)

“After 20 years working in the corporate sector, I decided to change my life and follow my dream of becoming a professional VO artist and actor.

I hooked up with Gary Terzza and then went for it (and continue to do so) at 100mph, with the result of now having clients in the USA, UK, Europe, and India in addition to being on Spotlight.

It was through a conversation I had about ipDTL (Yes, I know, but at least it’s not about the weather) that led me to Mike Broderick’s door.  We were able to help each other out and get a connection via ipDTL in advance of any clients wanting to use this medium.

To me that sums up the ethos of the members of the VO community I have met so far.  We are all in the same boat, locked away in our acoustic-tiled cell with optional bass traps (stop it!) loving what we do, wanting it to be the best and of the highest quality.

Through Mike I have joined the group, and it has been a real pleasure to spend time with fellow VO artists.  We can share our knowledge and experience to help each other, and you know what…we are all unique and bring our own skills to the table.

If someone asks me now whether I can recommend a genuine American voice…Yes I can, y’all!”

For more information about our Google Hangouts group, or if we can assist you with your voice-over project needs, please contact: Carrie, Debby, Guy, Mel, Mike, or Steve via our websites.  We’re always happy to help!

 

 

 

Goodnight Vietnam

We’re all reeling today about the sad news we awoke to regarding the death of Robin Williams.

News like this generally doesn’t impact me on a personal level, I take the view that I hadn’t connected with the relevant celebrity individually prior to their death, so it’s incongruous to feel personally about it when they pass.

So I can’t understand why this had made me feel differently.

Darkness, depression, mental illness, whatever label you give it, it touches us all at some point in our lives. My family were impacted tremendously by such a thing not too long ago – and even after the person has physically left, the anguish remains and sits deep and heavy.

As a voiceover artist, I work on bringing text to life. I don’t class myself as an ‘actor’ in the usual sense, but there are similarities.

Robin Williams brought such depth of personality to every role he acted, and his richness, warmth, humanity. fragility, enduring smile, and unique humour played out in almost every one.

One Hour Photo demonstrated how truly broad his talent was; a dark and, some consider, close portrayal of his inner demons, laid bare for our consideration.

Our generation grew up with Mork, were inspired by Sean Maguire, learned from John Keating and joined in with the struggle of Adrian Cronauer.

We learned today that, if it was suicide, how deeply troubled he was. The result of course is devastating to his family.

He was one of those small group of actors who made us feel like we knew him personally; and yet, sadly, clearly, obviously, we didn’t know him at all. With so much to celebrate about Robin, we know it’s right to consider his ability and genius, left for us to be inspired time and time again.

However, right now, that’s difficult to do – the sadness is just too overwhelming.

RIP Robin, you were an inspiration, a shining light, and I remain ever envious of your ability to grow a remarkable beard.

Steve

This much I know… 10 things I learned from getting into voiceover

There are people in this business 30 years or more – who have forgotten more than you or I will ever learn.

Even after a few months, you quickly realise that the learning curve is steep.

As a relative newcomer to voiceover, I discovered quickly that the people in this world are the friendliest, helpful, accommodating and kindest bunch of characters I have ever come across.

In my very early days, it became clear that there is a wealth of experience and knowledge out there which is massively helpful when you’re starting out. Now In an effort to give something back, I thought I’d jot down the things I learned VERY quickly about VO – in order to help people aiming to get into this world understand what can happen early doors.

If someone benefits from this list, then perhaps I’ve given a small leg-up to people considering this path. It’s MY experience, yours may be different – but we’re all different so embrace that.

1) It’s not easy

You need time, dedication and tenacity to learn how to do things the right way. Liken it to being a mechanic – you might be able to do a crash course in car repair in a week, but in order to make a success you still have to do your apprenticeship, turn out good quality work, build a customer base, open your business and grow it – and that takes time. If you want an overnight success, don’t bother reading the rest of this.

2) Prepare for rejection

Clients will make decisions about whether you are right for their project or not based entirely on subjective factors. Accept it, and enjoy it. It’s part of the game

3) Get the right kit

Don’t think you can compete with the thousands of others out there by recording into your smart phone nestled in an egg-box, you need to invest in professional equipment. There is lots of useful resource to help you choose, but work hard to find what’s right for you. Equally, don’t overspend in the early days – it’s not a wise investment. Hone your VO skills first in order to learn what YOU need from your gear. £300 will get you started, but do your research and spend it well.

4) Get a coach

If you only take ONE thing on board from what I learned, get a coach who KNOWS their stuff. They can guide you through the minefield of anecdotes and advice. Mine is Gary Terzza and he is FAB.

5) Practice

Did I mention that It won’t happen overnight? It will happen if you apply yourself and work on it every day.

6) Try everything

I surprised myself by getting work on projects outside of my comfort zone. You’re learning a new craft, so you need to learn where your boundaries are too. That means getting things wrong, but mistakes are VITAL because you learn from them.

7) Don’t undersell yourself

If you’re going to spend just 2 hours a day practicing and auditioning, that’s 56 hours a month honing your craft. If you spent 7 working days a month learning to be a mechanic, would you then carry out a full service on someone’s car for 5 dollars/pounds/Euro? Resist the temptation to do cheap work early on, if you want to do something for free – try a charity

8) The wall

There will come a point when you start questioning whether this could deliver a return, if you have to adjust something do it – but if you want success you MUST persist. This ‘wall’ may come at 2 weeks, 6 months, or longer – when it does remind yourself why you set out and don’t let that evaporate.

9) Don’t cut yourself off from the real world

A significant amount of work is to be had online through so called pay to play agencies etc. That’s VO life, but it’s not the whole picture. You need to get out there in your local market and tell people what you can do for them. Use contacts, local businesses – anyone who can help you find out where there’s work, and respect these contacts, you never know when they may have something helpful.

10) Enjoy it

This is a remarkable world, and potentially a life-changer if you can succeed. Don’t lose sight of how interesting and enjoyable it is, even in the tough times. Every recording you make is unique, and could never be replicated by someone else. Cherish what’s unique about you.

11) Who said there have to be 10?

The voiceover world is (as my coach calls it) a contrarian lifestyle. That means working weekends, evenings, quickly, being flexible, doing what’s necessary. But the rewards in terms of satisfaction when that first client chooses YOUR voice over everyone else’s are fantastic, and worth it.

 

If these things are useful to you, then I’ve helped. ENJOY what you are setting out on, you’re about to join the most remarkable group of people I have experienced working with. Use common sense, and a filter when considering the body of advice (including mine!) and you can find your way.

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. But people in this world have heart and WILL be happy to help you. For more content which I found useful, have a look at the following resource:

Gary Terzza’s VO Masterclass   

The voiceover coach (AUS)

Derek Chappell – the voiceover blog

Marc Scott

George Whittam

Have a GREAT day!

Steve

 

 

Learning to love your mic

About five years ago, I made my first ever ‘professional’ voiceover recording.

It was for a training video and the producer gave me a quick lesson in acoustics; we made an ‘igloo’ out of mattresses and pillows in a canteen – and then we got to recording. When you don’t know what you don’t know, you can have a ‘bash’ at pretty much anything and not worry about the outcome. Indeed at the time I was pretty happy (as was the producer).

But then, a few years later, I started learning about voiceover myself and, before long, one of the elements of the process became an elephant in the booth.

The mic was making me sound terrible.

It was highlighting horrible noises, embellishing errors, amplifying imperfections, and generally making me sound terrible. Flipping microphone. I would step in front of it – and we’d eyeball each other. She would say to me, “Go on – try and sound good, and I’ll mess it up for you”. And she was succeeding. Every session was a battle, every recording a fight.

But then – I went back and listened to those early recordings, and I realised something:

The mic didn’t make me sound terrible – it was doing exactly what I had invested in it to do. It was my ears – they had become educated. I was hearing things I never heard before. I was becoming frustrated at an apparent lack of quality – when actually it was because I was now aware of it.

Some of those things would get better with practice, and they did – and some of them were just ‘my sound’.

If you know me – you’ll know that one of my favourite phrases is:

grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I thought about this phrase, and considered what I wanted to change.

And then something happened – I learned to love my mic.

Not an ‘obsessed with the technology’ kind of love. But I learned that the mic was the conduit, the link, the solution – not the problem. The mic was my servant, it would do whatever I asked of it – and reproduce faithfully exactly what it heard.

And our relationship changed. It wasn’t the thing highlighting the faults – it was the thing helping me to channel what the client or director wanted. Yeh, sure, some imperfection was going to go along for the ride too – but it was far outweighed by what was good.

The mic was HELPING me to sound good, not the other way round. And like when you learn anything – every visit to the booth meant I was getting better. Suddenly, the mic wasn’t something to be afraid of – it was my partner.

I firmly believe that as soon as that switch was flicked – it was all change.

So when I go into the booth now – I do it with a little buddy, who is on my side, who wants to help me sound the best I can, and who faithfully ensures I do.

Love your mic – and it’ll love you back.

Have a GREAT day.

Steve

 

I have put YOU in a Twitter list, wanna know why?

It’s been a while since I blogged – I am working on reducing frequency and increasing quality! (Lemme know how I’m doing?!)

If, like me, you’re following 500+ people on Twitter – you’ll recognise that managing and keeping up to date with people’s posts can end up being a full time job.

And if your full time job is actually the reason why you use twitter in the first place, then you need to spend more time doing that – instead of filling your day keep up with everyone’s tweets.

So far I have eliminated the following approaches as ”ineffective” in dealing with the volume of activity:

  1. Narcissism – only looking at ‘notifications’
  2. Lap of the Gods – Intermittently grabbing a random chunk of tweets, reading them, and accepting that I only read tweets from ‘lucky’ people
  3. Death by posting – Sitting there bleary eyed until the early hours reading everything until I’ve caught up, adopting a ‘you can sleep when you’re dead‘ rationale
  4. Ostrich – spending all day glued to your mobile device, as life simply passes you by

Clearly these approaches are ineffective, distracting and just plain ‘wrong’!

Not only was I wasting time, but they were defeating the object because you are likely to miss useful, interesting posts – and many people really do take time and trouble to craft their tweets well.

And if part of your on-line strategy is to re-tweet good stuff to share it with others, you’re gonna struggle to sort the twits from the tweets.

And it’s not just about volume.

Our brains CANNOT multitask effectively (have a read of John Medina’s “Brain Rules” – a GREAT read if you’re interested in more modern theory of how our brains work)

By adopting a combination of the approaches listed – we’re attempting to reconcile hugely varying styles, context, information and relevance – all at the same time.

Our brains cannot assimilate this variety simultaneously – and we really might as well not bother.

(Incidentally – I was gonna list “don’t bother” as option number 5 – but I’m sure that’s not why you signed up in the first place!)

Well if you haven’t used ‘LISTS’ yet, then here’s a revelation!

Splitting the people you follow into categories is HUGELY helpful in dealing with what you’re looking at. It means you use your time more effectively, you can concentrate on what you’re reading without distraction, and it really will improve the quality of your interaction with the blue bird.

This was my approach:

1) Decide on how your lists will be constructed

  • I considered the main subject the person posts about – and created lists for each. It’s hard work to set up initially – but really pays off in the long run. Have a look at mine if you like (@steveovoice)
  • Of course there will be variations – some people cover all sorts in their tweets but if you can decide what they MAINLY cover, create a list. If not – create TWO, and put them in both (or more!)

2) Work your way through the list of the people you follow, and add them to a list – or two, creating new lists as you go (if they don’t fit in the ones you started with)

  • Once you’ve done the slog to begin with – then you just need to keep disciplined as you follow new people (or indeed they follow you)
  • You can use something like Hootsuite to do this process more efficiently, but unfortunately even the premium version of Hootsuite doesn’t give enough info about each person on the contacts page to be clear where you’re putting them. So I stuck with Twitter itself

3) Decide on PUBLIC or PRIVATE lists

  • Bear in mind your lists are PUBLIC unless you make them private
  • That means that if you create a list entitled ‘idiots who waste my time’ and then put me in it – I will get a message telling me you did that. Personally, I’d be grateful that you even you took the time to give me so much consideration – but some people MAY get upset! If you create a PRIVATE list – they don’t get the message
  • Also – bear in mind that if your list is public – anyone can see who is in there, AND they can subscribe (copy) your list. Which of course is the point of creating a social media network in the first place
  • It also means you can subscribe to other people’s lists too – which is DEAD helpful when you’re getting started
  • But if you don’t like all that – then make your lists private

4) Enjoy a more streamlined Twitter experience!

  • I have found the main benefit of using lists is that when I am looking at ‘local’ businesses for example, I can consider the tweets in the context of this being ‘local’ information – and process, RT, or favourite them accordingly.
  • Then I may move onto looking at Voiceover people – and what’s going on there, or consider the people I follow who primarily tweet about ‘marketing’.
  • And if I want some light reading – or need a smile, I’ll consult my ‘funny’ list – yes YOU are in there! 🙂

So – if you then read your tweets via your lists, you are less likely to miss something because of the ‘noise’ generated by the other 1234 tweets jostling for your attention – which appeared on your timeline in the last 3 minutes!

Give it a try – you might find it rewards your twitter experience, and enriches what you get out of it!

If this article has been useful – I’d love to know.

Have a GREAT Day

 

Steve

Have a look at John Medina’s work here…

http://www.brainrules.net/

3 minutes and 58 seconds…

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of ‘positive thinking’ – ensuring you are in control of your frame of mind.

Something happened to me this week in voiceover, It wasn’t a life-changing thing, but it did impact me; it impacted my confidence.

However, it wasn’t a bad thing that happened, it was a good thing! So what’s wrong with letting positive things impact your confidence? I’ll tell you.

Incidentally, this piece isn’t just about Voiceover, but about what I mean by ‘positive-thinking’ and why it’s vital.

WHAT IS POSITIVE THINKING?

Firstly, let’s be clear on what positive thinking is not:

  • Running around blissfully grinning from ear to ear, while the world falls about those ears
  • Blind ignorance
  • Pretending things are great when they aren’t
  • Wishy-washy fuzzy sunshine mode

Positive thinking, for me, is about recognising that the outcome is directly affected by your belief of how it’s going to turn out.

Henry Ford was quoted as saying “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re probably right”. There is some debate on whether it was actually Ford who originated it. In 1905 (some 40 years prior) a poem by Walter D Wintle entitled ‘Thinking’ was published for the Unity Tract Society.

The first lines of the poem are:

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.

And it ends…

But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!

Apologies for publishing the innate sexism – I guess it was the early 20th Century and people still had a lot to learn! But it looks familiar doesn’t it? I have put a link to the full poem at the end of the blog if you wanna read it all.

These days, there is plenty of discussion on the web about positive thinking, and the validity or otherwise of ‘believing you can’. Sadly, some lazy chatter takes the comments at face value – and tests them by seeing whether they apply to ‘being able to levitate’ or such some other nonsense.

Infinite number of Monkeys+typewriters = 2/3 of the internet – Steve O’Neill 2014

You can decide whether it was Ford, Wintle, or someone else who coined it – but what does is “whether you think you can or you can’t…” saying ?

I believe it refers to the fact that success, achievement and quality comes via an open gate. A gate which is opened by believing that the success is possible, and something worth working towards. Of course, you need to work towards it with vigour and determination – but always with a belief in ‘yes’ it will happen.

YOU have to open the gate, and YOU have to work hard AND – sometimes – FAIL.

Now that might sound like a contradiction, how can it be good to fail if you believed you were going to succeed?

The answer is simple – failure to meet the goal is disappointing, but it still has value if you learn by it.

Failure without learning is total failure, that’s fairly clear.

But I believe that succeeding without learning is just as bad.

Let me explain why:

SETTING RELEVANT GOALS

On 6th May 2014 it was the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister’s success at breaking the four minute mile barrier.

This event is often used in training and sports motivation as significant – that before it happened, medical science said ‘your lungs would explode and your heart would jump out of your mouth‘ etc. The anecdotes continue that within ‘X days X number of people beat the barrier‘ because they suddenly believed etc. It would be a neat story if all the rhetoric were true, but sadly it wasn’t.

Believing is important – but only part of the story.

Within 46 days Bannister’s record WAS broken and bettered to 3 minutes and 58 seconds – a story which we don’t hear so much about.

Of course there’s significance in 4 minutes, we like round numbers and neat things – we tend to celebrate:

  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • New Year
  • Centuries
  • Things that go faster than 100mph
  • Weekends

We don’t usually celebrate:

  • Being 17 years 5 months and 3 days old
  • The 23rd day of November
  • Things passing the 83mph barrier
  • Tuesdays

And yet the things which happen on those days, after that period of time, at that speed, or at that point in our life are just as important as the nice neat round numbers.

Whatever you are working towards, you must have two things:

1) A goal

2) The belief you can reach it

Without BOTH of these, what do you achieve?

Arguably you’ll achieve what you set out to achieve – nothing.

Ok, so you’ve set a target. However, if you don’t believe you can achieve it – what is the point of setting the target in the first place?

The goal or target doesn’t have to be a round number – in fact I would argue it shouldn’t be a round number, because it then becomes about the roundness of the number (4 minutes etc) and not the achievement or what you can actually do.

No one set out to break the 3 minute and 58 second barrier, yet it’s clearly a better achievement.

And the belief you will succeed should NOT be about blind ignorance – otherwise it will dent your confidence every time you miss the goal – or you’ll just be too busy smiling to notice.

It’s easy to be positive when you’re winning. True courage, true reward comes from focusing on a positive outcome to drive you via failure – towards success.

I’VE SET THE TARGET – WHAT NEXT?

I am not interested in the size of a voiceover job, how glamorous it is or whether it’s going to get me fame – I’ll leave those ambitions for the ’20 somethings’ in life, I am interested in making it the best quality I can, something to be proud of, and delivering the best result I can for the client.

If I don’t achieve something I planned to – an audition, securing a role, a quality recording etc – I work hard at reviewing why, because it’s important to review.

What’s more important, is what you are going to do differently next time.

Sometimes – it’s nothing. You don’t need to do anything differently, because it genuinely was external factors which influenced the outcome. Casting is subjective, if someone thinks our voice fits, it’s a matter of taste. But we MUST know the difference – because if we let those external factors become the reason, the success (or failure) EVERY time, then we’ve lost it.

And that’s where your plan, and positive attitude come in together – because each time you can compare the outcome to your plan and decide:

1) I met the plan – don’t change anything

2) I fell short of something – change something

3) The plan is wrong – change the plan

WHAT’S WRONG WITH BEING HAPPY AT SUCCESS?

Back to my original point, why did I get upset because I was HAPPY at the outcome?

Because I allowed the external factor of the success to affect my confidence.

And that isn’t my plan. My plan is not:

Hope you get a success where you didn’t expect it

or

Expect results when you least expect them

How can you DO anything about those outcomes? you can’t!

In reviewing why I achieved the success – a small success but a success –  I became clear on what I should do differently next time around.

Because, if I do it differently next time – it’s more likely to result in a success as opposed to a failure.

That’s what I mean by positive thinking:

Being clear on what WILL affect the outcome in a positive way

Reviewing your successes is as important as reviewing your failures – because if you are clear on WHY it was a success, you’re more likely to be able to replicate it next time.

So, my suggestion is – when you get a win if course smile, enjoy – DO get excited. But when the feeling has passed, review REALLY clearly why you got that win, what worked, how it met with your plan, and then set out to replicate it next time.

THEN – you’ll open the gate.

Then, you can ultimately have ANY colour rainbow you want, so long as it’s…

 

In summary then:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Set goals and targets based on what you CAN achieve, some simple, some stretching – but ALL achievable
  3. Focus on what WILL support you achieving the goals
  4. Identify what WON’T support you – and ditch it
  5. Review the results, and compare them to the plan
  6. Identify what YOU did which supported the positive outcomes, and commit to doing MORE of those things (be clear about what YOU did, separate the external factors)
  7. Identify what YOU did which did NOT support the positive outcomes, and bin them
  8. Review the plan, it’s flexible!
  9. Challenge everything you read on the internet – including this, find contrary evidence and then make up your OWN mind
  10. Actually I just re-read point 9, and I’m now I’m stuck in a bit of a paradox – but you get the point!!!
  11. Don’t always aim to create lists of things with nice round numbers

Have a great day

Steve 

 

http://www.allpoetry.com/poem/8624439-Thinking-by-Walter-D-Wintle